Plantain “Arroz” a la Cubana

This dish does away with the traditional rice element of Arroz a la Cubana,and calls in deeply caramelized plantain “rice” instead. (While Christine cuts the plantains by hand, we used a food processor to blitz them down to size. Just make sure they’re fairly firm if you’re going this route.) Turns out, it’s the perfect base for rich, umami-laden beef. We loved this with a squeeze of citrus over the top!

Ingredients

Cubana Beef

  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 3 sun-dried tomatoes
  • 1 onion
  • 1 fresh habanero pepper
  • 6 garlic cloves
  • 2 tsp fish sauce
  • 8 ounces shiitake mushrooms or baby bella mushrooms
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 pounds (900g) ground beef
  • 1 can peeled plum tomatoes
  • 12 ounces tomato paste
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 handful fresh cilantro, chopped

Plantain Rice

  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 3 plantains
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 dash sweet paprika
  • Fried eggs as you like

Directions

Cubana Beef

  1. Heat butter in a large pan or braiser over medium heat. In the meantime, chop onions into small cubes. Chop habanero into tiny pieces (including seeds), and julienne sun-dried tomatoes. Smash and chop garlic into little pieces. Wash and slice the mushrooms and set aside.

  2. When butter is hot, sauté onions, habanero pepper, and sun-dried tomatoes. When the onions have turned translucent, add in the garlic.When the garlic has turned fragrant, lower heat a little and add in fish sauce. Keep mixing until the smell of the fish sauce has evaporated.

  3. Increase heat to medium-high and saute in the mushrooms. Add in salt and pepper. When the mushrooms have shrunk, add in the ground beef. Stir until the beef is completely incorporated. Cook until the beef is browned.

  4. In the meantime, chiffonade the fresh cilantro. After 40 minutes, check the pot and adjust taste with salt and pepper. Mix in cilantro and cook for one minute more.

Plantain Rice

  1. Smash and chop garlic into tiny pieces. Set aside. Chop plantains into small cubes. Season with salt, pepper and paprika.

  2. Heat butter in a large saute pan or wok. When hot, cook in the garlic until fragrant. Sauté in seasoned plantains, making sure to incorporate them completely with ghee and garlic. Let sit and mix only every 3 to 4 minutes to let the plantains touching the pan caramelize. Keep doing this until you are happy with the volume of caramelization.

Umami comes from...

Tomatoes

Glutamate: 150-250mg/100g

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